FROM MY HUSBAND TO YOU: ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

Some veggies are so delicious that I tend to do as little as possible to prepare them, so they can shine on their own. But the other day the husband pulled an amazing dinner for us and the side dish blew my mind. Asparagus stir-fry that packed a ton of flavor and made us feel as if we were dining in a cool restaurant in Los Angeles. Just like we did during our sabbatical at UCLA years ago (it does feel like a previous life).  I insisted he should write a guest blog post about it, but he is quite busy wrapping up a review article, and food blogging is definitely not a distraction he needs. So, I did the altruistic, sensible thing, and composed the post myself. Because if you also have a soft spot for asparagus, you need this in your life…

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
(adapted from The Washington Post)

1 medium jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice,  divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
toasted sesame seeds

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeno and olive oil, saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, a couple of minutes more.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still firm, about 1 minute.

Add the lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve right away, perfect with grilled salmon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Looking at our served meal, you could conclude we love sesame seeds. And you would be 100% correct. They do go well with salmon and perfect with asparagus. This is a very simple and quick dish to put together, and would complement many main dishes, from beef to poultry.  Serve these asparagus over polenta and you can call it a great, satisfying vegan meal…

I have to say I am pretty lucky to have a partner who cooks dinner for us every other day. I love to cook, but it would get a bit tiring to do it every single evening.  We have different styles, I am always trying new recipes, whereas he tends to stick to his favorites. But every once in a while he finds a recipe and jumps on it. Like this one. It was a fabulous meal…

ONE YEAR AGO: The Best, The Very Best Hummus

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Katsu

THREE YEARS AGO: Whole-Lemon Marinade: Long Overdue

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

FIVE YEARS AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

SIX YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

NINE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

TEN YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner

OMG SPINACH PIES

Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here. A video summarizing important tips can be found here

SPINACH PIES… Please, do not run away from me, I cannot take it. Times are stressful, I need your company. Hate spinach? Hate anything green? Fear not, this was quite likely THE tastiest savory recipe I tried this year. I know, it’s just April, but it’s a year that feels like a lifetime passing by. I will ask you to steam a ton of spinach and you might be a bit annoyed by that step. But once that’s done, you are basically there. Ready to enjoy one amazing side dish or fancy brunch item. Locked inside with no guests? Fancy Brunch for Two. Go with the flow…

SPINACH PIES
(slightly modified from The Washington Post)

(5 to 6 tartlet pans, about 4.5 inches in diameter)

20 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
10 ounces small-curd, low-fat cottage cheese
10 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Set a steamer basket above simmering water. Place half of the spinach in the steamer. Cover and steam until just wilted, then drain and coarsely chop. Press with paper towels to remove as much moisture from the spinach as possible, then transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining spinach.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease the tartlet pans, then arrange them on a baking sheet. Add the diced shallot to the spinach, along with the eggs, cottage cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pepper and nutmeg; stir to blend well. Divide evenly among the tartlet pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browned on the edges and set in the center.

Wait 5 minutes before removing the little pies from the pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Credit should go for the husband who noticed the recipe in The Washington Post and sent me the link. It was part of an article on Irish cooking, published right around St Patrick’s Day.  We were so impressed by these pies, not only tasty the day I made them, but two days later, very gently warmed in a low oven. I normally don’t care for low-fat cottage cheese, but it worked perfectly in this preparation. If using low-fat goes against your principles, by all means grab the regular kind.

I used tartlet pans from Wilton that have a loose bottom, so it’s easy to push them out to serve. The original recipe mentioned you could make 6 tartlets, but using these pans I made only 5. The same type of filling could work well as a real tart, over a crust (like the olive oil crust of my recent past), but this version is as light as it is flavorful.

I hope you make these pies. It is possible that it would work well with frozen spinach, but I much prefer the brighter taste that you get once you steam it yourself and use right away.

ONE YEAR AGO: Avgolemono Soup, My Way

TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Chocolate Twist Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard Times Three

FOUR YEARS AGO: Turkey Portobello Burger

FIVE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Ricotta Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

NINE YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

TEN YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis

IVORY LENTILS, MY NEWFOUND LOVE

In May last  year I read a very interesting blog post by Mimi, in which she shared a Mediterranean salad recipe using Ivory Lentils. Are they white lentils? Well, not really. They are the center of a black bean found in India and known as “urad dal.” I was intrigued, and knew that at some point I had to amazon-it. Because, obviously, the chances of finding ivory lentils in our neck of the woods are essentially zero. Finally I can share my first adventure with this product. I absolutely loved them, but must warn you they do not taste anything like lentils. Or beans. They are quite unique and remind me more of a grain such as barley. Which is pure gastronomic joy in my book.

IVORY LENTILS WITH CHICKPEAS AND BLACK OLIVES
(inspired by Chef Mimi)

1 cup ivory lentils, soaked for 4 hours

for the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

for the veggies:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
olive oil to coat chickpeas
salt and smoked paprika to taste
2 celery ribs, diced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts marinated in oil
1/3 cup black kalamata olives, pitted
a few sundried tomatoes, sliced thin

After soaking the ivory lentils, cook them in a large volume of salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, until tender. Skim the surface every few minutes. Drain, and reserve to cool (if serving as a salad).

Roast or air-fry the chickpeas coated in olive oil and seasoned with salt and paprika.  Reserve.

Make a dressing whisking all the ingredients together. If the sundried tomatoes are too hard, let them soak in the dressing for a few minutes. If they are soft, simply mix them with the cooked lentils and all other ingredients.  Place in a serving bowl, and serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Some recipes do not call for soaking ivory lentils, but I decided to follow Mimi’s advice. I am glad I did, because they foamed a lot even after soaking for hours and changing the water for cooking. Maybe they cook fast enough without the soaking step, but if you have the time, do it.

This exact preparation would work very well warm, so consider skipping the cooling time and just mixing everything together as soon as the lentils are drained. Leftovers are equally tasty at room temperature or briefly warmed in the microwave.

I get so excited when I find a new ingredient to play with! I already have another recipe to try using these beautiful “lentils”, one that takes them in the direction of a flatbread… Intrigued? Stick around…

You can order and read more about ivory lentils with a click here.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bouillabaise for a Chilly Evening

TWO YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

CHICKPEAS AND ZUCCHINI WITH TAHINI SAUCE

This side dish was the marriage of two regular appearances in our kitchen: quickly sauteed zucchini and air-fried chickpeas. The union was celebrated with a nice amount of tahini sauce.  I tell you, this worked very very well. If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast the chickpeas in a 400-420F oven. It takes longer and the texture won’t be quite as crunchy, but it will work just fine.  I intended to sprinkle pomegranate seeds right before serving for a little extra bling, but of course that day the grocery store had ran out of them. Best laid plans.

LEMONY ZUCCHINI AND CHICKPEAS WITH TAHINI-SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the tahini-sauce:
1/3 cup plain full-fat yogurt
1/8 cup tahini paste
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey
salt to taste
water if needed
for the veggies:

3 small zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 can chickpeas, well drained and dried
olive oil to coat chickpeas
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste
fresh parsley
(pomegranate seeds if you have them)

Make the tahini sauce: whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve.

Make the air-fried chickpeas.  Coat them lightly with olive oil, add the spices and place them in the air-frier set at the highest temperature (usually 390F) for about 12 minutes. They should be crunchy and golden brown.  Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet, add the zucchini covering the whole surface, season with salt and pepper. Let the slices cook undisturbed until the side in contact with the pan is well seared. Move the slices around and cook until done. Sprinkle lemon juice all over, cover the pan for a minute, remove the lid, add the chickpeas and parsley.  Serve immediately with the tahini sauce on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When I was a child, teenager or even young adult, you could not bribe me to eat chickpeas, which in Portuguese have the non-appealing name of “grão-de-bico”. It translates – loosely – as “the grain of the beak”. They can also be called “ervilha-de-galinha”, which ends up as “chicken’s green peas”. Yeah, very sexy. How could anyone consider that a delicacy? Anyway, now I crave it. Go figure.

Leftovers were delicious a couple of days later. In fact, I found out that air-fried chickpeas, when microwaved just enough to make them warm, get a nice texture, a bit more creamy inside. My lunch coupled this tasty concoction with a fried egg on top.  I was smiling the whole afternoon.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mokonut’s Rye Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

THREE YEARS AGO: Going naked, and my husband loved it

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

TEN YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD OVER HUMMUS

We are back from a month-long trip to England, where I had the pleasure of eating twice at Ottolenghi and once at Dishoom.  Both restaurants focus on Middle Eastern food, and both serve dishes absolutely packed with flavor. No matter what you order, it will feel like an explosion of flavors: hot, bright, lemony, spicy, with contrasting textures to make it all even more appealing. I came back home with the goals of being a bit less timid with how I season our food, and also of expanding my horizons as far as veggie side dishes are concerned. It’s not a secret that I have a weak spot for hummus and all things chickpeas. Hummus is great as a dip, but it is quite amazing when coupled with roasted veggies such as cauliflower. This recipe will prove it to you…

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD OVER HUMMUS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Simple)

for the salad component:
florets from 1 large cauliflower
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
olive oil to coat cauliflower
salt and pepper
⅓ cup walnuts, toasted
½ cup chopped green olives
parsley leaves to taste, chopped
juice and zest of on large lemon

for the hummus:
14oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil  to taste (less than 1/2 cup)
lemon juice to taste
water if needed to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 400°F.  Coat the cauliflower florets with olive oil, add all spices and mix well. Place in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Toast the walnuts on a dry, non-stick frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Reserve.

Make the hummus by processing the chickpeas with the tahini, cumin and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper, and with the processor running add the olive oil until it gets a creamy consistency. Add lemon juice, taste and adjust seasoning. If needed, add cold water to thin the hummus. Reserve.

Assemble the dish: in a large bowl, mix the roasted cauliflower florets with the walnuts, green olives, parsley and lemon juice.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil right before serving over hummus.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was absolutely scrumptious! You could conceivably omit the hummus, but it adds a lot to the dish. It would stand as a full vegetarian meal if coupled with items such as farro, couscous, or bulgur wheat. We enjoyed it with boneless chicken thighs marinated in yogurt & smoked paprika, with a bit of plain rice. It was our first dinner after coming back home, jet-lagged, tired, but looking forward to sleeping in our own bed, with three very happy pups nearby. I missed them so much…


Dinner is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sous-vide Egg Bites

TWO YEARS AGO: Paul Hollywood, The Weekend Baker

THREE YEARS AGO: Texas Sheet Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, September 2015

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sour Cherry Sorbet: A Labor of Love

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – September 2013

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Raspberry Sorbet at Summer’s End

EIGHT YEARS AGO: When three is better than two  (four years with Buck!)

NINE YEARS AGO: Grating Tomatoes (and loving it!)

TEN YEARS AGO: A Peachy Salad for a Sunny Day